PDP fight gets messier as Wike asks court to remove Atiku as presidential candidate

Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike has asked a court to declare him the winner of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) primary election and sack Atiku Abubakar from being the presidential candidate.
Wike and a PDP chieftain, Newgent Ekamon also sued Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; and the PDP over the conduct of the presidential primary of the party that was held was in Abuja on May 28 and May 29, 2022.

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Atiku was declared winner of the primary election with 371 votes ahead of his closest challenger, Wike, who polled 237 votes. Former Senate President Bukola Saraki got 70 votes. Tambuwal withdrew from the contest and endorsed the former vice president before voting commenced.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/782/2022, Wike Ekamon, are listed as the plaintiffs with the PDP listed as the first respondent while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the 2nd respondent. Tambuwal and Atiku are listed as the 3rd and 4th respondents respectively.

In the originating summons, Wike and his co-applicant asked the court to determine eight issues including whether the purported transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku by the PDP was illegal and void.

The plaintiffs asked the court to determine if Tambuwal lost his claim to votes the moment he stepped down for Atiku.

He asked the court to determine whether Tambuwal “having stepped down during the primaries ought to lose his votes.”

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Wike and Ekamon argued that should these issues be determined in their favour, the court should grant nine reliefs including a declaration that the purported transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku be declared null and void.

The plaintiffs are also seeking a declaration that the PDP acted negligently and in bad faith by assigning the Sokoto governor’s votes to Atiku at the primary.

They prayed the court to “cancel the transfer of votes and a corresponding order restraining the 3rd respondent (Tambuwal’s) withdrawal in the primary was done after voting had commenced.”

The applicants also prayed the court to declare that the PDP and Atiku took undue advantage of Tambuwal’s withdrawal when they allowed the Sokoto governor to persuade delegates to vote for the former Vice-President in the primary.

Wike and Ekamon asked the court to order INEC to reject or remove Atiku from “its list of candidates in the 2023 presidential election.”

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They are also seeking an order commanding the PDP to recount the votes of the primary that was held on May 28 and May 29.

Lastly, the applicants are seeking an order of the court “directing the 1st respondent (PDP) to declare the 2nd applicant (Wike), a presidential aspirant in the May 28 and May 29 primary as the winner of the aforesaid primary with a corresponding order directing the 1st respondent (PDP) to forward his name as the candidate to contest the presidential election in 2023.”

In a supporting affidavit he deposed to, Ekamon noted that he was a member of the PDP and attested to the fact that Wike won the presidential election.

He maintained that Tambuwal withdrew from the contest after voting had commenced and directed that his votes be assigned to Atiku.

“The 1st (PDP) and 4th (Atiku) respondents who also wanted the votes desperately agreed with the 3rd (Tambuwal) and assigned 3rd (Tambuwal) respodnent’s votes to the 4th (Atiku) respondent and increased his votes to win the 2nd applicant (Wike).

“The 2nd applicant (Wike) won the primaries if the votes of the 3rd respondent (Tambuwal) had not been transferred or assigned to the 4th respondent (Atiku).

“If I wanted to scuttle the convention, I could have done that and I told them… I have never seen how people can violate procedures and guidelines. Somebody had spoken. It is only at that point he was speaking that he could say I have withdrawn. You don’t call him back,” Wike had said.

PDP spokesman Debo Ologunagba said he was unaware of the case and thus could not comment on it.

Wike has been at loggerheads with Atiku and Tambuwal since his defeat in the presidential primary.

He had criticised the PDP for allowing Tambuwal to canvass votes for Atiku after he had already been allowed to speak earlier at the convention.

Wike last week accused Atiku of lying and sending ‘attack dogs’ after him.

The Rivers State governor said he will speak on the issues between him, the PDP, and Atiku before the general elections.

“When the time comes, I will speak and Nigerians will know what actually happened. And they will decide for themselves,” Wike said.

Atiku’s decision to allegedly ditch the recommendation of a PDP committee to pick Wike as his running mate for Delta State governor Ifeanyi Okowa further strained their relationship.

Speaking at an TV interview last week, Atiku denied receiving a recommendation from a PDP panel vote to choose Wike as running mate and stated that he chose Okowa because he wanted someone he could work with “amicably”.

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